CFCLB attorney Kate Brown-Henry recently attended the AAJ Women’s Trial Lawyers Caucus Lobby Days, along with fellow board member Betsy Green and attorneys Kathy Farinas and Mary Beth Raney. They joined a group of more than 150 other trial lawyers from around the nation. The focus of the Washington D.C. meeting was to end the practice of forced arbitration, which affects millions of Americans every year.
Right now, forced arbitration clauses exist in many contracts. When you buy a product or sign an employment contract that has one of these clauses, you are binding yourself to settle any disputes that arise from the product or employment through arbitration rather than an open and fair trial. The plaintiff has no rights to appeal a decision made by the arbiter, who is usually chosen by the company. These clauses can be found in a wide variety of contracts and agreements from credit cards and insurance companies to nursing homes and home-building contractors, to name a few. Forced arbitration takes away the rights of workers and consumers who usually don’t even know that they’ve entered into this agreement in the first place.
That’s why lawmakers have recently drafted a bill called the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal, or FAIR Act, which seeks the end of this unfair practice. Introduced by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative Hank Johnson last February, lawmakers are working together across the aisle to give workers and consumers back their rights.
In the spirit of bipartisan support for this bill, Kate and other attorneys met with both Democrats and Republicans alike. The group met with Indiana Representative Trey Hollingsworth as well as staff from both Indiana senators and 5 other state representatives. During the conference, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met with the AAJ group, and California Representative Katie Porter gave a speech at breakfast. Dialogues with these decision makers are vital when it comes to ending unfair forced arbitration. We at Christie Farrell Lee & Bell are proud of Kate’s hard work on behalf of both employees and consumers to end forced arbitration.